Dufner leading Zurich Classic; Els, Stricker 2 back

By Associated PressApril 27, 2012, 9:12 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Jason Dufner is in familiar territory atop the leaderboard after 36 holes.

It's the weekends that have given him fits.

Dufner moved into position for another bid to win his first PGA Tour title, shooting a 7-under 65 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the Zurich Classic.

The former Auburn player has had at least a share of the 36-hole lead in two of his last four tournaments, including the Masters, where he closed with consecutive 75s. He's second on the Tour in pre-cut scoring, but 98th in third rounds and 108th in final rounds.

''It's been a difficult weekend for me the last month and a half or so,'' Dufner said. ''I haven't quite played as well as I would have liked, but I know that my game is still pretty good.

''I've been trying to think about what I can do better mentally, what I can do better emotionally out there and learn from some things that I maybe struggled with. Obviously, there's a lot of different things that go into winning besides hitting the golf ball.''

Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the Phoenix Open and Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship for two of his three runner-up finishes in 163 starts on the PGA Tour.

On Friday, he capped his bogey-free round with a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th to reach 12 under.

''I had a couple of easy birdies,'' Dufner said. ''I don't think I missed a fairway or a green. Just had some tough reads. The greens are kind of tough to read. Sometimes you get competing grains, competing slopes, so you get a putt that might break to the right, but the grain is going left. That can be kind of difficult to judge. Then 18, I had just a really good number for my 5-wood to get somewhere on that green and had a putt that was down grain and breaking to the left with the grain, so that was a nice way to finish the day.''

PGA Tour rookie Russell Knox, John Rollins and first-round co-leader Ken Duke were tied for second. Knox shot a career-best 64, Rollins 66 and Duke 68.

Greg Chalmers holed out for an eagle on the par-4 first and also finished with a 64 to join Steve Stricker and Ernie Els at 10 under. Stricker and Els shot 68.

Knox and Chalmers matched the course record.

Defending champion Bubba Watson had his second consecutive 71 to make the cut on the number at 2 under in his first tournament since his playoff victory in the Masters.

Second-ranked Luke Donald rebounded from an opening 73 with a 65 to reach 6 under.

Knox, a Nationwide Tour graduate playing in his ninth tournament, had seven birdies and an eagle – on No. 18 – along with one bogey.

''You never plan on shooting a 64, it kind of happens and I'm happy it did,'' Knox said. ''I haven't played well this year so far, but it's been the best year of my life.''

Stricker had four consecutive birdies beginning on the seventh to move into a tie with Dufner, then missed a 2-foot birdie putt on the 11th that would have given him sole possession of the lead. Stricker stumbled home with bogeys on the 12th and 15th.

''I played really solid all the way through 11 and then missed that putt and kind of lost my thought process there for a little bit,'' Stricker said. ''Felt like I let a really good one slip away today.''

Donald also holed out from the fairway on the first hole, marking the first two eagles on the hole since the tournament was first played at the course in 2005.

Watson, away from his wife and recently adopted son after taking a two-week break following the Masters, eagled the seventh and birdied the eighth, but bogeyed the 10th when he missed the green from 47 yards on his approach. He also three-putted the 12th for another bogey, moving him to 1 under, one above the cut line.

''Mentally, I've lost focus just about every shot, so I'm trying to figure it out,'' Watson said. ''I want to be home with my son and wife. I know it sounds like a cop-out but I'm not playing very good because I'm just really not into it.''

Watson also struck a fan in the head with a hooked drive.

Watson's tee shot on the second hole at the TPC Louisiana drew blood from the back of Radd Leonard's head.

Leonard, who was reached quickly by medics, said he was fine and found it incredible that he was hit in the head by the very player he came to see. The 52-year-old motorcycle shop owner from Baton Rouge also was glad he was able to help Watson back into the fairway, where the ball landed after striking him.

''I saw it coming and it looked like it was hooking right at me. I wanted to see that big hook, you know, and I got to see it. I turned and ducked and it still hit me,'' Leonard said. ''It gave him a good bounce, anyway.''

Watson walked over toward Leonard, put on a new golf glove, signed it, then took it off and gave it to Leonard and shook his hand. Watson's caddie, Ted Scott, drew laughter when he instructively pointed farther down the fairway and said, ''We're glad you're all right, but if you could just angle your head a little differently ...''

John Daly, playing on a sponsor's exemption, missed the cut. He followed his opening 73 with an 80.

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.


Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

(2004-2005).

• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.